On his flight back to Rome, Francis talked about climate change, Venezuela and migrants. Italy and Greece are doing a good job on migrants, accepting and integrating, “But a government must handle this problem with the virtue of prudence.” He also hopes Trump will go back on his decision concerning the "dreamers".
Rome (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis talked to journalists on his flight home after his visit to Colombia. He spoke about the responsibility of politicians who deny the human role in climate change, about immigration that must mean integration, but keeping in mind "how many places do I have", about his hope that US President Donald Trump will not expel the "dreamers" as well as his desire to see the United Nations intervene in in Venezuela’s crisis, where the Holy See is very involved.
With respect to migration, Francis said that he did not talk about it with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. The pontiff did however thank Italy and Greece “for opening their hearts” to migrants. “Accepting them is God’s commandment . . . But a government must handle this problem with the virtue of prudence. So first, [the question it must ask is] how many places do I have.”
“Second: not only accepting them, but also integrating them [must be the goal]. I have seen examples of beautiful integration in Italy. When I went to Roma Tre University, I seemed to recognise the face of the last of the four students who asked me questions. She was one of those that came with me from Lesbo by plane. She learnt the language, and upgraded her studies. This is called integration.”
“Third: There is a humanitarian problem. Humanity has become aware of these camps, the conditions in which these migrants live in the desert. I have seen pictures. I have the impression that the Italian government is doing everything it can in the humanitarian field to solve problems that it cannot take on itself [alone].” This requires “then, a heart that is always open, prudence, integration, and humanitarian closeness. But then comes our collective unconscious that says: Africa must be exploited. This must be reversed: Africa is our friend and must be helped.”
Speaking about migrants, the pontiff turned his thoughts to the United States and to the decision that might lead to the expulsion of 800,000 young people, children of illegal immigrants.
"I heard about the abolition of this law,” the pontiff said, “but I have not been able to read the articles, how and why this decision was made. I do not know the situation well. However, tearing young people aay from their family is not a good thing for the young people or the family.”
“I believe that this law comes, I think, not from Congress but from the executive branch of the government. If this is so, I hope that it is re-thought because I heard the president of the United States has presented himself as a ‘pro-lifer’. A good pro-lifer understands that the family is the cradle of life, and that its unity must be defended.”
Speaking about climate change, Francis noted that "whoever denies this should go to the scientists and ask them. They speak very clearly. The scientists are precise. The other day news came of a Russian ship that went from Norway to Japan by way of the North Pole without encountering ice. One university said we only have three years to turn back, otherwise the consequences will be terrible. I don’t know if three years is true or not, but if we don’t turn back we’re going down”.
“We can see climate change in its effects and all of us have a responsibility in making decisions. I think this is a very serious thing. Everyone has their [share of] moral responsibility. Politicians have theirs. Ask the scientists, then decide. History will judge their decisions.”
“Words from the Old Testament come to mind: Man is stupid, stubborn, someone who does not see. He is the only animal that will fall twice in the same hole. Arrogance, conceit . . . then there is the ‘pocketbook god’. So many decisions depend on money.”
With respect to Venezuela, where President Maduro says his stand "with Pope Francis" whilst using violent words against the bishops, the Holy Father said, "I think that the Holy See has spoken strong and clear. What Maduro says, he should explain it. I do not know what is on his mind. The Holy See has done a lot. It has sent a working group of four former presidents, and a top-level nuncio. It has spoke to people, and [it has spoken out] publicly.”
“I have talked many times during the Angelus, trying to find a way out, offering help to get out of this situation, but it seems that this is [something] very difficult [to do]. What is most painful is the humanitarian problem: so many people are fleeing or suffering. We have to help solve the situation by any means. I think the United Nations has to come forward to help."
Finally, speaking about Colombia, Francis noted that "The motto of this trip was 'Let's take the first step.' Upon returning, I would like the motto to be: 'Let's take the second step.'”
“Guerrilla fighting has lasted 54 years, and there is a lot of hate, many sick souls. Sickness is not to blame; it comes . . . Guerrilla fighters and the paramilitaries have committed ugly sins and have carried this disease, hatred. But some steps give hope. The latest one is the ceasefire by the ELN (National Liberation Army, Ejército de Liberación Nacional), and I am very grateful for it. I have felt a desire [in the country] to go forward, beyond the ongoing negotiations, a spontaneous force. That is where the people’s desire lies. The people want to breathe and we must help them with closeness and prayer."